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President Appoints New Prime Minister, Reshuffles Government
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev opened the fall government session Sept. 8-9 by assigning top officials to new posts and announcing a number of budget changes.
Nazarbayev named former First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Bakhytzhan Sagintayev as prime minister, replacing Karim Massimov. Sagintayev served as minister of economic development and trade, first deputy chairman of the Nur Otan Democratic Party and minister of regional development.
Massimov assumes chairmanship of the National Security Committee, replacing Vladimir Zhumakanov. The two-term prime minister previously headed the Cabinet of Ministers and Presidential administration.
The reshuffle included Zhumakanov becoming an assistant to the president and secretary of the Security Council under the President and Askar Mamin, former head of Kazakhstan Temir Zholy, the national railway company, appointed First Deputy Prime Minister.
In addition, General Staff Chief Col. Gen. Saken Zhasuzakov was named Minister of Defence replacing Imangali Tasmagambetov, who was appointed Deputy Prime Minister. Most ministers retained their jobs except Minister of Justice Berik Imashev who was appointed to chair the Central Electoral Commission, replaced by Marat Beketayev, until recently Deputy Chief of Presidential Staff. The Ministry of Civil Service was reorganised into the Agency on Civil Service and Fighting against Corruption, now led by Chairman Kairat Kozhamzharov, while the former Minister Talgat Donakov was reappointed as Deputy Chief of Presidential Staff. Also a new Ministry of Religious Affairs and Civil Society has been established, with the former Secretary of Security Council Nurlan Yermekbayev to lead one.
Nazarbayev outlined a number of specific tasks for the coming period. Noting the government’s main goal will be improving the standard of living, he specifically cited entrepreneurship and called for further development of relevant programmes.
“I instruct the government jointly with akims [governors] to take measures for the organisation of cooperatives in rural areas, which should ensure the marketing and processing of agricultural products,” he said.
Replenishing the state budget with 830 billion tenge (US$2.5 billion) by the end of the year will aid in the shift from crisis management to implementing strategic development objectives, he added.
Nazarbayev suggested using the last quarter to prepare a new agribusiness development programme based on Agribusiness 2020. An additional 97 billion tenge (US$287.1 million) will be allocated to improve agricultural subsidies and support agribusiness, specifically veterinary safety.
In an effort to diversify the economy, the President called on the government and regional governors to focus on export stimulation and development, specifically the need to execute agreements with China on the Silk Road Economic Belt. The action will subsequently allow the nation to focus inward, specifically in conjunction with the Nurly Zhol economic stimulus programme, and he requested an additional 74 billion tenge (US$219 million) to accelerate ongoing infrastructure projects.
“We started the second five-year industrial programme . . . and a new five-year plan should be oriented on non-primary export products. The main criteria for selecting projects should be export capacity, high performance and innovation. I instruct the government to allocate the necessary additional funding to support the programme in the amount of 112 billion tenge (US$331.5 million),” he said.
He added the National Bank and government must take measures to restore long-term lending activity in light of stabilisation in the currency market. The World Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Asian Development Bank and Islamic Development Bank are planning to allocate up to $7 billion in the next five years through a cooperation programme approved in 2014 and he suggested the possibility of expanding the programme to attract additional funds to the economy.
Focusing on individuals’ needs, Nazarbayev noted a record 9 million square metres of housing was opened in 2015 and an additional 10 million square metres are anticipated by the end of the year. Because needs remain high, he proposed developing a system to integrate all existing housing programmes.
The President called for a revised central government budget for the current year allocating an additional 380 billion tenge (US$1.1 billion) to implement priority projects and activities and for a hold on the National Fund savings.
“In 2016, I instruct reducing the amount of the guaranteed transfer on 400 billion tenge [US$1.2 billion] and the targeted transfer on 50 billion tenge [US$148 million]. The government needs to revise the costs of executing my orders for the coming three-year period in the draft budget for 2017–2018, which will be submitted to Parliament,” he said.
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